Film: 2012 Indie Film Reviews

by H. Clent Bowers

Magazine     >    Reviews

Written by H. Clent Bowers for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Courtesy of the films: Escape Fire, Almost Perfect, Inbetweeners, We Are Legion

5 out of 5 stars


LOS ANGELES (October 7, 2012) Among the many recent independent films released this month we have chosen a few of the top ones to review below. Please check out these wonderful  films when they arrive in your city.

(Image 1) Promotional poster and (image 2) scene from “Escape Fire”


Sundance Film Festival 2012 (Official Selection)
Silverdocs 2012 (WINNER – Silverdocs React to Film Social Issue Award)
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2012 (WINNER – Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights)
Newport Beach Film Festival 2012 (WINNER – Outstanding Achievement In Directing and Outstanding Achievement In Documentary Filmmaking)

Directors/Producers: Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke
Executive Producer: Doug Scott
Cinematographer: Wolfgang Held
Editor: Bradley J. Ross
Original Score: Chad Kelly
Additional Music: Moby


Once again, we are reminded of how the American healthcare system is failing its people. This documentary shows us how we may not have to overspend or succumb in a failing healthcare system by making some well thought out and observed changes. I grew up with a mother who understood that learning nutrition, moderation, and more natural path to living would give us a better life than that of bad food, drugs, and quick fixes. I would like to think that most of us had someone in our lives while growing up, who lead by example as my mom did and does.

So, why are we stuck on a destructive path to early death primarily through poor health and disease? Is it because we are blind followers of what we know is bad for us? Some say Obamacare is misguided. But I believe he is on a right course attacking it from the position of finance. He isn’t a doctor of medicine and can’t be blamed for our path of band-aid medicines or expensive medical procedures that “keep ’em coming back till the they succumb”, attitude. I really don’t think it is the doctor’s fault nor most people who work in the health care system. They became doctors and nurses to help others. So what is it?

Disease makes big money. Our parents pay to give birth normally in a hospital, and most born there will one day exit there. Is it any wonder that much of our lives after 30 is spent starting to deal with disease? So, what happens during our formative years? Who gets paid to sell us what we shouldn’t eat- to push what is bad for us from childhood then reap another harvest of money as we get sick and die? 

Escape Fire not only deals with how to turn the medical cost and practices around, it gives concrete evidence of alternative practices that would encourage preventative ways to live, cut medical cost, and eliminate the need for a mountain of drugs and procedures. Perhaps Obamacare is attacking the crisis from the top at the dragons head, thus making it easier to reform the then passive body of the industry of healthcare. Greed drives the dragon and money fuels it well… Eat wrong, get sick, take this, pay us, and die…Ka-ching! Next!

I love this documentary, as I do all great minds that asks us to wake up, stand up, and support the change that is better for all people.  I know our young people will get there eventually by necessity…. but, why can’t we begin to lead by example.

Go to the website below to get the full low down on Escape Fire. They have written much more and far better than I can about the subject.  Better yet, see the movie.

To read more on this subject please go to the link below.

From left to right: Edison Chen and Kelly Hu in “Almost Perfect”

Director: Bertha Bay-Sa Pan

This All-American family film is a joy to experience. The back drop is New York City. The characters are a family of bi-racial upper middle class artists. The story is about surviving a typical dysfunctional American patriarchy. It champions two lovers trying to find their way to the new emerging world society as progressive non-dysfunctional members.

At the beginning of the film, I was afraid that this was the Asian version of being and growing up American. My opinion quickly changed as I got caught up in the characters and the plot as their stories became profoundly universal. What do you do when you’ve grown up in dysfunction and set out to live your own life. Do you cling to what you have experienced? Do you act out the patterns that you know are destructive by impulse? Or do you learn and develop a better way?  It’s about family culpability really, when we meet this family it takes us a while to understand just what the dynamics are and why everyone seems to be at each others throat. New York can do that to a person let alone a family.

This American family is traveling through the issues that success, marriage, career, and well, having it all can produce. Add to that the effects of second and third generation Asian American culture and  bi- racial parents and we have a beautiful soup for the eyes, ears, and emotions. I loved this movie. I loved the maneuvering through the complexes of a modern NY life style while holding on to some traditional ethics of commitment; learning  through the mistake of their elders.

Promotional poster for “We Are Legion”

Writer/Director: Brian Knappenberger

In between non-violence and real violence exist the voice and the anonymous voice when trumpeted unanimously it is a powerful force. Add to that the evolution of the world youth, the Internet, and the computer savvy, you have a powerful world voice moving as quickly and forceful as the very air itself.  Our culture will always continue to grow and evolve. What it becomes from time to time is ever the question. We can now communicate as people of liked minds to the literal universe almost instantaneously.

This documentary We Are Legion, is the true account of a new social group called Anonymous, or Hacktivists,  who rose and protested the leaders of our culture whose methods resulted in suppression to the freedom of thought, ideas or speech.  So our Hacktivists got together world wide and began to protest and expose or take down these people who would lead us. Call them nerds, geeks, or just really smart people, their time has defiantly come.  And we have learned that there is a little nerd in all of us. These groups help to keep the people who would lead us mindful that “we see you” and can reach you.

Letting the world know that keeping watch and demanding transparency is our responsibility.  They were like the Robin Hoods of cyberspace. But, like Robin Hood, stealing is stealing and if caught, this system will punish you. When in power one must be careful not to become as bad as the perceived bully and cause only chaos. We always have to remember the goal is peace, balance,compassion, love, while exercising our assumed right of privilege. On the other hand, if man is basically good, why must he be forced to do good. A powerful documentary. Opens Friday October 19, 2012.


Cast members of “The Inbetweeners

Director: Ben Palmer
Cast: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, Laura Haddock, Lydia Rose Bewley, Emily Head, Tamla Kari, Jessica Knappett, Theo James, Theo Barklem-Biggs.Will McKenzie and his best mates, Neil Sutherland, Jay Cartwright and Simon Cooper

The Inbetweeners is a popular  British television series and movie (2011). The aptly titled movie The Inbetweeners (in US Theaters beginning Sept 7, 2012) is anything but when it comes to giving us an accurate account of the insanity of adolescence. Indeed when it comes to dealing with the absurd expectations of these four middle class youths approaching the responsibility of adulthood, sexuality, and relationships, this films brings it home in spades. 

Reminiscent of American Pie and Spring Break, and “R” rated, The Inbetweeners pull no punches with British style humor to what it means to be young, dumb, and full of… “confused energy.”  Through the magic of movie storytelling our four protagonist go on  vacation to Greece during holiday season to hunt girls, get drunk, and seek out new adventures. While finding all they came for and more this foursome experience and learn life values many people don’t in a lifetime.  The well paced writing, directing, photography, and acting  make for a refreshing look at an old story of a young man’s journey towards adulthood.  That makes me a fan of this film.

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